Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Putin isn’t Behaving in a New Way but Others aren’t Responding to Him as Their Predecessors Did, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 29 – Practically every day, one can hear alarmist warnings that Vladimir Putin is putting in place “a new aggressive authoritarian regime capable of undermining the existing world order with hybrid wars, violations of sovereignty and other misdeeds,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says.

            But the fact of the matter is that despite the hype, Putin is not introducing “new trends in world politics.” Instead, he is “acting like a European ruler of the 19th or perhaps the beginning of the 20th century,” the Russian economist says. What has changed is the response of those around him (mnews.world/ru/ne-verte-alarmistam-pochemu-nam-ne-grozit-apokalipsis/).

            “To [such] old challenges must be given old answers,” Inozemtsev continues. “Military crimes must be confronted by symmetrical actions and not by ‘personal sanctions’ which band a hundred bureaucrats from vacation trips abroad. If the West so often speaks about ‘a new cold war,’ then why does not it intend to act by the means which brought it victory in the earlier one?”

            That and much else is possible if the world approaches Putin’s actions and much else in a more sober fashion rather than giving into the alarmism which informs much of the media because predicting the apocalypse sometimes seems to be the only way to attract any attention at all.

            According to Inozemtsev, “the contemporary world is much more rational, effective, humane and secure than any which existed before” even though that is typically lost sight of because of the flood of articles predicting disasters. This flood is especially consequential because it has come after the brief but equally foolish notion of ‘the end of history” at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. 

            Inozemtsev gives some compelling examples of what he is talking about:

·         The world economy is of course unstable. No one has repealed crises. But over the last 30 years, per capita incomes have doubled, more than a billion people have risen out of abject poverty, and the poor are being treated better than ever in most advanced countries.

·         People are afraid of technological changes and majorities think capitalism is somehow bad. “But at the same time, they trust scholars almost twice more than religious leaders and their employers 1.5 times more than the political leaders of their own countries.”

·         Global warming, including that caused by humans, is a problem. But strikingly, most advanced countries have cut back on their carbon emissions. And still more telling, the electric car company Tesla now has a capitalization equal to all the automobile manufacturing companies in the US.

·         The coronavirus is a danger. The world has fastened on the deaths of a hundred from it in China. But the SARS epidemic carried off 810 before a vaccine was developed. And in 1918-1902, the Spanish flu killed 50 million people long before a virus could be developed. Now, none of these are threats any more.

·         HIV/AIDS is also a danger but in 2018, deaths from this disease fell 56 percent around the world. And despite this epidemic, life expectancy around the world has risen 11.3 years for people around the world.

·         The loss of privacy is a threat. But people can and are responding. They can vote against authoritarian regimes, and they can cut back on the amount of information they put out on line that such regimes and ordinary criminals can and do make use of.

·         “Finally, political populism, migrantophobia, and other such trends” are real problems. But none of them today is as negative as similar phenomena were half a century or more ago. And all are generating their own opposition as people recognize the limitations of each of these. It takes time but it always has.   

“So one should not panic prematurely,” Inozemtsev says. “People will find the means for the effective solution of their problems,” especially if they can look beyond the alarmists who often get in the way by suggesting that the problems are too large for anyone to do anything serious about.

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